“If the sister had not walked into my hut, I wouldn’t be here,” says a grateful Bindu Madakundu. The 27-year-old tribal girl from north Kerala’s Wayanad district said the sister cured her of sickle cell anemia. This disease causes the body to produce sickle-shaped blood cells which are stiff and sticky. This can result in restricted blood flow, blockages and damage to organs that are often fatal. The ‘miracle healer’ was Sister Innocent, who now heads Janasaukhya (healing people), an NGO in the Indian state. “Madakundu was bedridden when I found her in 2002. I took her under my care and now she works at our ayurvedic hospital in the district.” The Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate nun says sickle cell anemia, a common blood affliction among African people, is also found among tribal people in the district. The nun, a professional lab technician, began many years ago researching the disease that claims many lives. A survey she conducted in 1994 revealed 38 percent of “incurable” sickle cell anemia cases were among the Kurumar tribal community. Sister Innocent, who hails from a long line of vydyas, or healers practising indigenous medicine, started looking for a cure. She prepared a concoction of 18 rare herbs which improved the amount of hemoglobin and consequently the health of the patients. Since then hundreds of sufferers have benefited. “Sister Innocent distributes the herbal medicine and also imparts how to administer it,” said Father Mathew Nelledath, a priest from the district. “I have seen miraculous symptomatic relief in the condition of sickle cell patients in this region,” said Sister Anna Karimattam, a doctor and a specialist in tropical medicine. Allopathic doctors, however, don’t support the sister’s use of this herbal medicine. “Recently my medicine cured a three-year-old child in Atlanta in the US and I am awaiting the medical report from there,” says Sister Innocent. The nun has participated in research at international level and is the founder of the Kerala Traditional Medical Federation. Even the government consults her. But she refuses to hand over her patent to companies. Trained by the Asian Health Institute of Community Health, Sister Innocent has shared her experiences in countries like the Philippines and Japan. She has written several books and won many awards, including the Vaidya Prathibha award from the Federation of Traditional Medicine in Kerala. “My ministry is for the patients. I teach them to make medicines for themselves. Every disease has a remedy on Earth,” Sister Innocent concluded. IB13942.1649
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